The New Rental Tenancy Legislation

Wednesday 10 Mar 2021

The new rental legislation comes into effect on 29th March 2021. The legislation stipulates the rights and responsibilities of a landlord and tenant and all the obligatory requirements.

We are always here to help you understand the new legislation. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to give us a call.

 

 

Legislated changes already in place 2019-20:

  • Long Term Leases (01/12/2019): Long-term leasing is a new option available under the Residential Tenancies Act. A long-term lease allows tenants and landlords to tailor the terms of a lease agreement of more than five years and agree up front on things like rent increases and minor changes to the property.
  • Changes to Rent Increases (19/06/2019): Where leases entered are into on or after 19 June, landlords must not increase the rent more than once in any 12-month period.
  • Pets in Rental Properties (02/02/2020): The new renting laws mean renters can keep pets at a rental property, with the written permission of the rental provider (landlord). Rental providers can only refuse permission with approval from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Expanded Definition for Urgent Repairs

Urgent repairs will now include repairs or replacements relating to air conditioning, safety devices and any fault or damage which makes the property unsafe or insecure, including pest infestations, or mould or damp caused by or related to the building structure.

Rental Minimum Standards"

In addition to the recent change in legislation now in force (regarding pets at rental properties), important draft regulations regarding minimum standards have been released.

Put simply, the State Government has been working to introduce a minimum standard that applies to rental properties in Victoria. This means that property owners will no longer be authorised to lease out properties that do not meet certain requirements. Consequently, tenants will have the right to withdraw from tenancies where these standards have not been met.

 

VIC: New Rental Legislation, 29 March

Victorian property managers are reminded that your new Residential Tenancies Regulations come into force on 29 March 2021.

Whilst legislation regarding the provision and maintenance of smoke alarms in residential homes has been in place for years, 2021 sees the implementation of other safety related obligations for rental providers. Key safety activities being introduced include pool barriers and bushfire prone areas. The two that will affect all properties under our management will be the electrical and gas safety checks.

Clear guidelines have now been determined and all landlords who own and lease a residential investment property in Victoria will be governed by the change. These requirements are mandatory, meaning landlords must ensure that these guidelines are met or face serious fines and possible litigation in the event of an issue.

Electrical safety checks:

You must ensure that an electrical safety check of all electrical installations, appliances and fittings in rentals is conducted every 2 years by a licensed or registered electrician, and, you must provide the renter with the date of the most recent safety check, in writing, on request of the renter (within 7 days).

If an electrical safety check of the rented premises has not been conducted within the last 2 years at the time the renter occupies the premises, the rental provider must arrange an electrical safety check as soon as practicable.

You must keep records of the licensed electrician who did the check, his/her registration number, the date of the check, results, a report prepared in accordance with section 2 of AS/NZS 3019. This record must be kept until the next check.

Gas safety checks

This safety-related activity only applies if the rented premises contains any appliances, fixtures or fittings which use or supply gas. It is important to note that a heater check for carbon monoxide does not constitute a full gas safety check so balance works will have to be completed for the property to be deemed compliant.

The residential rental provider must ensure that a gas safety check of all gas installations and fittings in the rented premises is conducted every 2 years by a licensed or registered gasfitter and must provide the renter with the date of the most recent safety check, in writing, on request by the renter.

If a gas safety check has not been conducted within the last 2 years at the time the renter occupies the premises, the residential rental provider must arrange a gas safety check as soon as practicable.

Smoke alarm safety checks

The rental provider must ensure that any smoke alarm is correctly installed and in working condition; and

any smoke alarm is tested according to the manufacturer's instructions at least once every 12 months; and

the batteries in each smoke alarm are replaced as required.

The rental provider must immediately arrange for a smoke alarm to be repaired or replaced as an urgent repair if they are notified by the renter that it is not in working order. Nb: Repair or replacement of a hard-wired smoke alarm must be undertaken by a suitably qualified person.

The residential rental provider, on or before the commencement of the residential rental agreement, must provide the renter with the following information in writing:

information about how each smoke alarm in the rented premises operates

information about how to test each smoke alarm in the rented premises;

information about the renter's obligations to not tamper with any smoke alarms and to report if a smoke alarm in the rented premises is not in working order.

The renter must give written notice to the residential rental provider as soon as practicable after becoming aware that a smoke alarm in the rented premises is not in working order. Nb: Regulations made under the Building Act 1993 require smoke alarms to be installed in all residential buildings.

New Pool Regulations Have Come Into Effect

On 1st December 2019, new pool and safety standards were announced by the Victorian Government in response to a series of investigations which saw faulty and unsafe pool barriers result in the deaths of children in backyard swimming pools.

The new regulations require that all pool and spa owners have registered their pool or spa with their local council by 1st January 2021. All owners also have a legal obligation to ensure their safety barriers are inspected once every four years.

Owners are also required to have safety inspection checks completed by registered Pool Safety Officers and will be required to lodge a certificate of barrier compliance with their council. If a safety barrier is not compliant, it is the owner's responsibility to make the barrier compliant and once these works have been completed, a further safety inspection check will need to be conducted to ensure the barriers comply.

To access further information regarding pool safety and requirements, please visit the links below and your local council website.

 

Compensation to tenants when selling

Tenants will be entitled to compensation for any sales inspection that occurs at the property during their tenancy.

The prescribed compensation for each sales inspection is the higher amount of:

one half of the daily amount of rent payable under the residential rental agreement per inspection; OR

$30.00 per inspection

For example:

Rent is set at $400.00 per week. At that amount, the daily rate of rent equates to $57.14. Half of that daily rate is $28.57. In this instance, the greater amount as dictated by the above formula is $30.00 and the tenant must be compensated $30 for every sales inspection.

The rent is $450.00 per week. At that amount, the daily rate of rent equates to $64.28. Half of that daily rate is $32.14. In this instance, the greater amount as dictated by the above formula is $32.14 and the tenant must be compensated $32.14 for every sales inspection.

 

Modifications without consent

Modifications which will be permitted to take place without the landlord’s consent are as follows:

in a rental that is not a registered place (not heritage listed)

installation of picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets on surfaces other than exposed brick or concrete walls; and

installation of wall anchoring devices on surfaces other than exposed brick or concrete walls to secure items of furniture; and

installation of LED light globes which do not require new light fittings; and

installation of a water efficient shower head if the original shower head is retained; and

installation of blind or cord anchors; and

installation of security lights, alarm systems or security cameras that do not impact on the privacy of neighbours;

 

Example - A renter must not install a security camera or security light that directly faces a neighbouring property

can be easily removed from the rented premises; 

and are not hardwired to the rented premises; 

and installation of hardware-mounted child safety gates on walls (other than exposed brick or concrete walls);

In all rented premises:

installation of non-permanent window film for insulation, reduced heat transfer or privacy; and

installation of a wireless doorbell; and

replacement of curtains if the original curtains are retained by the renter; and

installation of adhesive child safety locks on drawers and doors; and

installation of pressure mounted child safety gates; and

installation of a lock on a letterbox.

 

Non-Compliance with Minimum Standards

Rental Providers must ensure that the property complies with minimum standards before a Renter moves in. If a property does not comply with the minimum standards, the Renter can terminate the rental agreement before they move in, with no recourse, or they can request it as an urgent repair.

 

Rental Minimum Standards"

  1. Locks: All external entry doors other than any screen door, attached to an external door must have a functioning deadlock. 
  2. Vermin Proof Bins: Rubbish and recycling bins must simply have a lid and be of a standard provided by the council or compatible with local council collection.
  3. Toilets: Must be in good working order and connected to a reticulated sewerage system or wastewater system or any other system approved by the local council.
  4. Bathroom facilities: Must be connected to a reasonable supply of hot and cold water and contain a washbasin, a shower or a bath. If a shower is present, a shower head is to be a 3-star rating, or a one or 2 star rating if a 3 star shower head cannot be installed or if installed would not operate properly.
  5. Kitchen facilities: The following are required to be provided:
    • A dedicated area intended for cooking and food preparation.
    • A sink in good working order connected to a reasonable supply of hot and cold water.
    • A stovetop in good working order that has two (2) or more burners
    • Any oven present must be in good working order.
  6. Laundry Facilities: Any laundry facilities present must be connected to a reasonable supply of hot & cold water.
  7. Structural Soundness: The rented premises are to be structurally sound and weatherproof, including no leaks.
  8. Mould & Dampness: Each room in the rented premises must be free from mould and damp caused by or related to the building structure.
  9. Electrical Safety: All power outlets & lighting circuits are to be connected to a switchboard circuit breaker that complies with prescribed electrical standards.
  10. Window Coverings: By 2022 each window in a room that is likely to be used as a bedroom or living area is to be fitted with a curtain or blind that can be opened or closed to reasonably block out light and provide privacy.
  11. Windows: All external windows which should be capable of opening must be able to be set in a closed or open position and have functioning latches to secure against entry.
  12. Lighting: Interior rooms, corridors and hallways are to have access to light whether natural or artificial to provide a level of illuminance appropriate to the function or use of these rooms.
  13. Heating
    • On and from 29th March 2021 - 28th March 2023 a fixed heater in good working order is to be installed in the main living area of the rented premises.
    • If a fixed heater has not been installed by 29th March 2021, an energy efficient fixed heater in good working order is to be installed in the main living area
    • On and from 29th March 2023 an energy-efficient fixed heater in good working order is to be installed in the main living area 

Definition of energy-efficient:

  • A non-ducted air conditioner or heat pump with a 2 star or above heating rating
  • A gas space heater with a 2 star or above heating rating
  • A ducted heating or hydronic heating system which has an outlet in the main living area
  • A slow combustion wood heater

Note: No electric heaters meet the above criteria under the new regulations.